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Senior Program Officer, Discovery & Translational Sciences

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seattle, WA, USA
Posted on Friday, December 15, 2023

The Foundation

We are the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Founded on a simple premise: people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve. We provide an exceptional benefits package to employees and their families which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage with no premiums, generous paid time off, paid family leave, foundation-paid retirement contribution, regional holidays, and opportunities to engage in several employee communities. As a workplace, we’re committed to creating an environment for you to thrive both personally and professionally.

The Team

Our Global Health (GH) division harnesses advances in science and technology to save lives in poor countries. We focus on the health problems that have a major impact in developing countries but get too little attention and funding. Where tools exist, we support sustainable ways to improve their delivery. Where they don’t, we invest in research and development of new interventions, such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics. Our work in infectious diseases focuses on strategies to fight and prevent HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, neglected tropical diseases, enteric and diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, and maternal, newborn and child health. These strategies are supported by functional teams that focus on Discovery & Translational Sciences, Innovative Technology Solutions, Vaccine Development, and Integrated Development.

The mission of Discovery & Translational Sciences (D&TS) is to catalyze innovation for the discovery and translation of transformative solutions to global health and development inequity. As such, the primary role of D&TS is to enable the foundation to achieve its ambitious global health equity goals as articulated by the disease-specific strategy teams (Program Strategy Teams; PSTs). For this, we exploit a unique advantage of the foundation in general and D&TS in particular: the ability to invest in high-risk and/or long-timeline initiatives with potential for truly disruptive change. We channel resources into creating more practical (affordable, scalable, deliverable) versions of existing tools, develop transformative new tools where none exist, and speed the translation of scientific discovery into implementable solutions, seeking better ways to evaluate and refine potential interventions before they enter costly and time-consuming late-stage clinical trials.
Key functions in support of this R&D mission include identifying and filling gaps in scientific knowledge, creating or implementing new technology platforms that can accelerate research in support of our goals, investing in potentially transformative ideas, continuous surveying of an ever-changing scientific and technological innovation space, and the fostering of an effective ecosystem of global health innovation, funding and partnership to advance the foundation’s mission. Our areas of focus include vaccines, biologics, drugs, microbiome interventions, and reproductive and sexual health. Within the D&TS team, the Global Health Discovery Collaboratory (https://www.ghdiscoverycollaboratory.org/) brings the leading edge of technological innovation to priority global health problems by sourcing cutting-edge enabling technologies, lowering barriers to accessing state-of-the-art tools and expertise, and supporting interdisciplinary scientific partnerships among our global grantee network to catalyze the discovery of novel biomedical solutions for global health priority problems.

Your Role

As a Senior Program Officer (SPO) in the Collaboratory, you will be accountable for designing, executing and managing a portfolio of investments to identify, incubate and de-risk novel technologies for global health use cases. You will also play an essential role in orchestrating collaborations among the global network of partners in the Collaboratory to unlock faster, more efficient, and more informed de-risking of discovery and translational efforts for global health candidates and products (drugs, vaccines, biologics, microbiome interventions, biomarkers, diagnostics). The applicant must be prepared to work across a diverse set of subject areas, bridging a wide range of expertise, with a demonstrated ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, and diplomacy in a fast-paced, challenging environment.

As part of a highly matrixed functional team, an important aspect of this role is working closely with disease experts from all our Program Strategy Teams (e.g., HIV & TB; Malaria; Pneumonia & Pandemic Preparedness; Enterics, Diagnostics, Genomics, & Epidemiology (EDGE); Neglected Tropical Diseases; and Women’s Health Innovations); technical experts from D&TS and other teams (e.g. Vaccine Development, Integrated Development, Institute for Disease Modelling, Biotech Accelerator), regional partners in LMICs, product development partners, biotechs, grantees in both HIC and LMICs, and other key external partners and funders. You will also partner closely with the Deputy Director (DD) to contribute to the continued development of the Collaboratory team’s strategic vision including participating in the setting of the overall strategy and developing new strategic initiatives.

What You’ll Do

  • Lead a portfolio of work to source and cultivate cutting-edge enabling technologies and critically evaluate their utility against specific unmet global health needs.
  • Monitor and provide analysis on emerging technology trends and innovations, serving as a timely resource for new opportunities.
  • Help conceptualize, shape and drive initiatives that address unmet needs in key strategy areas in partnership with the PSTs.
  • Negotiate, implement, and manage a portfolio of grants or performance-based contracts, including alignment of internal and external partners, review of letters of inquiry and grant proposals as well as providing clear, concise and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding.
  • Build and strengthen the global Collaboratory network as an engine for fast, efficient and impactful discovery and translational efforts in global health.
  • Foster synergies between Collaboratory partners, serving as a thought partner, bridge builder and resource to grantees to facilitate accomplishment of strategic objectives.
  • Represent the Foundation externally and be recognized as thought leader through participation in public events and meetings related to area of expertise and position responsibilities.
  • Plan and organize convenings to inform strategic planning and advance strategic initiatives.
  • Form partnerships with key global experts, external partners and funders.
  • Contribute to foundation knowledge capture, evaluation, learning, and dissemination; including developing reviews, summaries and informative reports that summarize key activities as well as supporting monitoring and evaluation activities.
  • Assist in the preparation and presentation of reviews and information/reports to Directors, Presidents, Co-Chairs and other Foundation leadership.
  • This role will require the ability to travel up to 30% domestically and internationally.

Your Experience

We seek a curious self-starter with a track record of recognizing potential in emerging technologies and turning that potential into successful tools and products. We are looking for people who enjoy the opportunity of working on complex projects and collaboratively creating solutions that have the potential for transformational change. We seek a candidate who can integrate a diverse set of perspectives to build consensus, structure and drive forward progress on complex topics. We are looking for individuals with:

  • PhD and/or MD with significant years of work experience.
  • Strong knowledge across relevant technical area/expertise, especially at the forefront of scientific innovation in computational biology, synthetic biology, AI.
  • Experience assessing new technologies and approaches as well as matching novel technologies with biomedical or public health applications.
  • High appetite for risk and innovation.
  • Experience working with and in LMIC settings preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to learn new disease areas and new discovery tools and product development technologies quickly.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead through influence and build relationships to gain the respect and trust of others and inspire change.
  • Demonstrated ability to build and lead diverse consortia to achieve common goals.
  • Demonstrated excellence in scientific writing and data analysis, written and oral communication skills, and experience advocating and communicating with a broad and diverse audience.
  • Demonstrated ability to work with flexibility, efficiency, and enthusiasm in a fast-paced and complex internal and external environment.
  • Proven program and stakeholder management skills: ability to coordinate inputs from many people; to track progress against targets and identify barriers to progress; to plan agendas and facilitate meetings; and to organize, evaluate, and communicate information.
  • Sound judgment with a demonstrated ability to handle complex issues, multiple tasks, confidential information, and competing priorities with skill, discretion, a strong attention to detail, flexibility and diplomacy.
  • Ability to organize/prioritize work and meet deadlines within a fast-paced environment with multiple and competing demands.
  • Tolerance for ambiguity and ability to apply structure to simplify complex problems.
  • Exceptional listening, verbal, and written communication skills, able to effectively calibrate input and synthesize information to connect with diverse audiences.
  • Excellent interpersonal and diplomatic skills. You must possess excellent relationship management skills to develop trusting and productive relationships with a wide range of colleagues, dignitaries, leaders, grantees, consultants and other partners.

The salary range for this role is $256,600 to $397,700 USD. We recognize high-wage market differences where our offices are located, in Seattle, Washington D.C., and Boston (Cambridge). The range for this role in these locations is $279,600 to $433,300 USD. As a mission-driven organization, we strive to balance competitive pay with our mission and new hires are typically brought into the organization at a salary range between the minimum and the midpoint salary range. Actual placement in the range will depend on a candidate’s job-related skills, experience, and expertise, as evaluated during the interview process.


Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

If you require assistance due to a disability in the application or recruitment process, please submit a request here.

Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.